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Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said Canada had insisted that no mention of Israel's pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders' final communique, even
though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.
"The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week," one European diplomat said.
A spokesman for Harper would not comment on the line Canada had taken, saying only that the final communique would make positions clear.
In the final communique, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters,
Group of Eight leaders will give "strong support" to U.S. President Barack Obama's call for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to be based on the 1967 borders, the French Press Agency AFP reported on Friday.
Canada's tax system currently subsidizes Israeli settlements that Ottawa deems illegal, however, the Conservative government says there's nothing that can be done about it.
In June of last year, Guelph activist Dan Maitland emailed Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon concerning Canada Park, a Jewish National Fund of Canada initiative built on land Israel occupied after the June 1967 War. Three Palestinian villages (Beit Nuba, Imwas and Yalu) were demolished to make way for the park.
This means Canadian organizations can openly fundraise for settlements Ottawa (officially) deems illegal under international law and get the government to pay up to a third of the cost through tax credits for donations. To justify the government's position, Ashfield cited a September 2002 Federal Court of Appeal case (Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel v. Minister of National Revenue), which reversed the Canadian Revenue Agency's previous position.
In the late 1990s, Israel's largest settler group, Yesha, raised more than $700,000 a year in Canada. When former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited in the mid-1990s, the Canadian Arab Federation's Jehad Aliweiwi said he "left with more than $1 million in tax-deductible funds, with no secret as to the destination." Through the 1990s the Press Foundation was probably the largest known source of funds for settlements, raising as much as $5 million annually for settlers in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron and in the occupied Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria in 1967.
When reporters peppered Harper with demands he explain whether he had objected to any of the language in the statement, the prime minister did not offer a direct answer.
Harper skirted reporters' repeated demands to know what influence he had brought to bear on the final wording, however, going only so far to say the draft communique had omitted several Palestinian concessions suggested in Obama's speech.
But in his closing remarks, the summit's host French President Nicolas Sarkozy made it clear the leaders had a significant difference of opinion.
"I think it's appropriate to talk about 1967 borders, because we can't talk about borders without specifying which ones," he said. "I think precisely what made Mr. Obama's speech courageous is that he evoked the 1967 borders."